This is a highly controversial subject, but it should not be. Using simple common sense, it becomes so very clear cut.
In the United States alone, we perform/allow over one million–one million abortions each and every year. I start with this concrete fact to alert all of us to the critical nature of this discussion, and to the vital importance of getting the answer to this much discussed and controversial question absolutely right. The core of this question is life and death on a massive scale. Many times bigger than all of our war deaths, gun crime fatalities, deaths due to alcohol and other drugs. Anything.
Given the magnitude of this topic, let’s put away all of our preconceived notions, and ask the the only two questions that need to be and must be asked and answered:
- When does life begin and
- When is it acceptable for the state to sanction the taking of a life?
And don’t we need to know exactly when life starts; I mean with great precision? Without being able to pinpoint the moment when life starts, we are clearly left with an agonizing grey area. As in the grey area when the fetus might be a life, and then again, it might not be. Is it a non-viable tissue mass or is it a human? In this grey area, aren’t we obligated to give the benefit of the doubt to the fetus, and treat it like a living human? We can’t be willing to abort a fetus if it might be a living human any more than we would fire a shotgun into a darkened room, not knowing if anyone was there or not. Hey, in baseball a tie goes to the runner because we do not have the technology in close calls to know to the nanosecond if the runner was safe or out; the runner gets the benefit of the doubt. We can do at least as much for the fetus–yes?
Now that we know that we need a precise moment, what is that moment? Using trimesters doesn’t give us a precise moment. Cutting the cord is a precise moment, but we clearly have a child by then, so that does not help. Is it when the entire baby emerges, or just the head? And if we call the baby fully emerging the test for the precise moment, what is so special about the feet? And how do you handle your thinking with breech babies and C-sections? The only precise moment in the whole process is conception. That’s when human life begins.
Now comes perhaps the more important question of when it is appropriate for the state to sanction the taking of a human life. Wars, law enforcement and self-defense are accepted examples. Capital punishment is more controversial. Now, what about the taking of a life for economic purposes? As in the prospective parents cannot afford to have that child? Or convenience, as in it would be a 20-year burden to have this child. Or because the child might be mentally challenged. Or the wrong sex. What about when it is highly likely that the child will grow up with few–if any–advantages–and be born into the middle of a drug-infested, gangbanger neighborhood? Is it OK to kill the child under any of these circumstances? Because that’s exactly what we are doing now. We don’t want this person, so we pretend that it is not a person. And when convince ourselves that a class of beings is not human, we have given ourselves permission to do anything we want with them. Blacks were not seen as human, so it was OK to enslave them. Jews were declared not human, so concentration camps were OK. And now the issue is the child in the womb. If it is judged not to be not human, it is OK to exterminate it. But it is a child, and if we, as individuals or a society, want to do away with it, let’s at least say out loud what we are doing, taking a human life, rather than pretending that, “There’s nothing of interest here. Move along.”
Most of us have a very hard time imagining the twisted logic and moral void that would have been required to see either blacks or Jews as non-human–and then act on that belief. We revere the abolitionists and the occasional saviors like Oskar Schindler, while we despise the Nazis and hate the slave owners. But which are we? It is not hard to imagine a world in the not-too-distant future where the people look back on abortion with the same disbelief and horror as we now see slaves and slavers. How will they see us; you and me? How will history judge us?
Forget the Supreme Court and Roe v Wade; this is not a legal question; it is moral one. And, as with all law, the laws should arise from morals; we should not be aligning our morals to comply with current law.
A quick note on two arguments we often hear in defense of abortion, e.g., “A woman can do anything she wants with her body.” First, if it is a child, and that is the clear case I am making here. It is not her body; it is separate person with its own DNA. Second, a woman cannot do whatever she wants with her body any more than I can. She is not allowed to punch someone in the nose even if her fist is part of her body. And I cannot take what I want from a store without paying, even if I do it with my own body.
And what about a woman’s reproductive rights?
Good question. She has 100% control over her reproductive rights, as does a man, until the moment she has a separate person growing inside her.
How’s that for coming to a hard and fast conclusion on one of the most debated and controversial issues for our day? To me, it is just Common Sense. Nothing more.
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It is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.